While the market is enormous, if we allow our censorship board to dictate the cinema art, the local film industry will never get a place on the global stage anytime.
If you watched the 95th Academy Awards, you would have screamed in jubilation, been overwhelmed with excitement and tearful, seeing Michelle Yeoh crowned the Best Actress in a Leading Role for Everything Everywhere All at Once, to become the first ever Asian actress to have won the much coveted prize in the Academy’s 95-year history.
“And ladies, don’t let anybody tell you you are ever past your prime. Never give up,” she told the world in her acceptance speech.
Yes, never give up. How inspiring!
It is no easy task for an Asian actor or actress to win recognition in the Oscars, but Michelle Yeoh did it. She once again let the world “see” Malaysia. She is the pride of Malaysia; she is not a weak woman but a giant in the film industry.
From this moment on, Michelle Yeoh has booked herself a place on the pedestal, on par with some of the greatest names in the industry such as Katharine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, Meryl Streep and Sophia Loren.
EEAAO is also the biggest winner in this year’s edition of the Oscars. In addition to Michelle Yeoh as the Best Actress in a Leading Role, the film also bags the Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor and Actress, Best Original screenplay and Best Editing prizes.
Ipoh-born Michelle Yeoh started her career pretty young, having been in the showbiz industry for over four decades now since her debut in 1984. Among her most celebrated works include: Police Story 3: Super Cop, Tomorrow Never Dies, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Lady (as Aung San Suu Kyi) and the more recent Crazy Rich Asians.
During the talk show A Date With Luyu, Michelle Yeoh shared about her childhood, family, how she came into the show business and how she later picked her scripts prudently. She even unabashedly talked about her romance with French multi-millionaire and former president of Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Jean Todt.
Given her outspoken disposition and well articulated remarks, it is hard for one not to be fond of her, and she boasts an inclusivity that only could have been derived from a multicultural society that is Malaysia. If she were to shed her more glamorous outlook, she could as well just be the big sister next door!
In 1911, Italian film theoretician Ricciotto Canudo defined cinema as an art. In The Birth of the Sixth Art, he called cinema a plastic art in motion.
Today, any acclaimed film incorporates the attributes of culture, literature, visual, audio, music, drama, dance, martial arts, fine arts, editing, and the list goes on — that will eventually be put into one piece by the director and his devoted team of artistes as well as other behind-the-scene workers. So, is movie-making something very easy?
Among some of the biggest names announced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences annually over the past 95 years include Citizen Kane, Casablanca, The Godfather, Gone with the Wind and Schindler’s List.
To many a layman, The Godfather is like promoting violence, while Schindler’s List is said to be associated with the Jews… No matter how great a movie is, presumably sensitive parts will have to be clipped by hypocritical film censors, voiding the efforts of the actors and actresses and the entire team working day and night, in the end rendering the whole film incomprehensible and devoid of its soul and spirit.
Malaysian director Chong Keat Aun’s The Story of Southern Islet won him the Best New Director, Prix FIPRESCI, NETPAC Award and Observation Missions for Asian Cinema Award at the 57th Golden Horse Awards. But the film had to suffer 12 different cuts by the Film Censorship Board of Malaysia in the pretext of religion.
Chong was thinking of not screening the film in Malaysia were his work trampled this way. In the end, Southern Islet got the nod for screening here but with five parts of dialogue muted and the film categorized as P13. If not because the film had received so many accolades, it would have been trashed by the authorities.
The crowning of Michelle Yeoh was a heartwarming moment that will continue to be cherished as eternal memory for all Malaysians. While cinema is an art, it is often overrun by religious hypocrisy here in Malaysia. That explains why the country remains a film industry desert that will never ever flourish no matter how much effort local film-makers have put in.
According to Gower Street Analytics, global box office revenue will be at least US$29 billion (RM130.5 billion) this year. While the market is enormous, if we allow our censorship board to dictate the cinema art, the local film industry will never get a place on the global stage anytime.